Archive for the ‘Game Design’ Category

GW2 vs TSW

Bronte asked his readers to compare GW2 and TSW. It’s something I’ve been pondering recently as well. Here’s a fairly detailed comparison: Continue reading

Area completion in MMOs

I’ve been spending some time recently playing GW2, and I think in some respects they’ve done a better job at solving the problem of area completion of any MMO yet. I don’t however think that the problem is fully solved; some issues remain. Continue reading

Neither long ago nor galactically distant

So, SWTOR, eh? That was really a good game, but never a great one. I stopped playing a couple of months ago and have been pondering what to say about it in post-mortem. Continue reading

Nothing but blue Skyrim…

Skyrim was quite an experience. Well, “was” is perhaps not the right word in some senses, although I achieved closure for now. I played the PC version last week, and have some thoughts to share. Continue reading

No man is an island, entire of itself

In the time since I started playing online games, back with EverQuest, things have changed in a lot of ways, mostly for the better. There’s one area though in which modern MMOs haven’t shown a great deal of innovation: social tools. In the last decade, I’d argue that there have been three meaningful new ideas for social tools in MMOs. I’d like to talk about what we have and what we lack. Continue reading

MMO Expansions – What Do They Need to Succeed?

As I’ve been playing LotRO again, I’m naturally interested in the upcoming expansion, Rise of Isengard (RoI), coming next month to a computer near you. But this got me to thinking – on a basic level, what do I expect from an expansion in any MMO? I’d posit that the central points are content, new mechanics, and new life. Let’s look at them one at a time. Continue reading

De profundis clamo ad te, Eru

Well, then. It’s been ages since I posted here. I really need to take shorter naps.

* rim shot *

What the hells happened here? Why so silent for so long? In short, I felt that I was repeating myself. I was starting to feel like a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off my lawn. I do love writing though, and I do love games, and this blog has been silently accusing me. Staring. Judging.

OK, ok, fine! I’m writing! I’m writing! But… I’m going to try changing my approach here and see how that works for me. Rather than pontificate about general game design issues, I’m going to focus more on the games I’m currently playing. There’s likely to be a bit more of a player perspective than before, but I’ll continue to relate things to the general design issues behind them.


Cool. Let’s go. Continue reading

Online Addictions – or “When is it bad to retain players?”

Wolfshead posted an interesting article bemoaning the state of the MMO industry, and in the comments, Psychochild raised a very interesting question: “At what point do designers go from building a fun and compelling game to ‘[p]urposely crafting an addiction so you can squeeze bags of money out of your players'”?

That’s a fascinating and serious question, and one I think deserves a lot more consideration.

On the one hand, the better designed a game is, the more fun it is, the more we want to play it.  For many players, it’s clearly quite possible to cross a line between enjoying a hobby in a healthy and responsible way, and succumbing to an addiction.  MMOs can inarguably become black holes into which we pour our time, energy, and money.  So there’s a point beyond which it’s unhealthy for a given player to play, or perhaps a manner in which it’s unhealthy for a given player to play.

So if you’re designing an MMO, how should you take this into account?  If you’re playing an MMO, what should you look for? Continue reading

Defining persistence

Motstandet posted an interesting article on That’s a Terrible Idea yesterday, and it got me to thinking about how we define “persistent” in regards to video games.

Continue reading

Journeys vs Destinations

Or, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Treadmill”.

Ysharros started a discussion that inspired me to ponder the nature and purpose of treadmills in MMOs.  Melmoth posted an article about how players prefer to skip to the end, which inspired me to wonder why games so often focus on the destination instead of the journey itself.  Being the efficient gamer that I am, I found a way to complete both quests discuss both issues at once.

Our story begins ages ago…

Continue reading